There is no doubt the Jabari Parker news was sad to hear. Parker, fresh off a lost year due to ACL surgery, had begun to find himself in a big way for the Bucks. In 51 games this season he was averaging 20.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists, while shooting 49 percent from the field as the squad's new age power forward. Without him, the team has had to scramble for solutions -- and they now find themselves looking up at the eight-seed. Milwaukee is 27-33, and 1.5 games behind Detroit. I, for one, hope they make it.
But I do not hope they beat the Raptors tonight. Toronto's squad is in its own battle, one taking place in both the standings and within their hearts. After last night's gripping win over the Wizards (god, how I hate the Wizards), the Raptors now own the tiebreaker over Washington. They are currently "tied" for third with the Wiz, which is not a bad spot to be in. Let's hope, to some degree, things stay that way -- the two/three seed is where Toronto wants to be.
More importantly, the Raptors are fighting to find themselves without Kyle Lowry. Yes, we're going to write this every single time we write about the Raptors here. And why not? It is the dominate storyline, each game a referendum on: DeMar DeRozan's ability, the integration of new Raptors Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, the consistency of Toronto's role players, the coaching acumen of Dwane Casey, and more. When Lowry plays, things fit together. When he doesn't, the Raptors have to find themselves.
Against the Bucks this season (and last), Toronto has been its best self. They'll try tonight for an eighth win in a row against Milwaukee. Can they do it? Check up on my preview, then get into the comments and we'll find out.